As the summer comes to an end, my thoughts are beginning to turn to Rosh Hashana. These long, lazy days will soon be replaced with an onslaught of holidays and the frenzy of preparation. I wonder if my Mother compiled lists in her head as I have already begun to do. In some ways, even without the modern conveniences of food processors and dishwashers, things were simpler. The menus were standard, Yontif meals were at home or with family that lived close by, and although everything was hand-made, her days were orderly and divided into tasks. There was shopping, baking, cooking, and dealing with that carp in the bathtub. Baking day meant the large wooden board and rolling-pin were placed on the dining room table where she would prepare homemade noodles, challahs, and roll out the thin dough for favorkes (something like wonton skins, fried and served in the soup.) The next day the Gefilte Fish, Kreplach, and Chicken Soup were prepared. Just hours before Erev Rosh Hashana, the last details were given her fullest attention. Garlic chicken and potatoes were roasted in the oven along with a sweet bread pudding. On top of the stove was a pot of simmering sweet carrots with a knaidle in the middle. A green salad was easily assembled and there was always an apple cake for dessert.
My life seems far less predictable in some ways. As each holiday approaches, I now wonder if I will be at home in Los Angeles, or on the East Coast with my children. The menus change from year to year, incorporating whatever the new food rage is, quinoa, kale chips, freekah, etc. The number of vegetable dishes increase, and the brisket has lost its place as the centerpiece of the holiday meal.
As I step into my yard, I see the changes that are taking place there as well. My summer garden is coming to an end which means we are harvesting the last of the tomatoes and eggplants. That leads me to think about fall, wondering which vegetables to plant in spite of the nagging uncertainty of how they will grow. As I contemplate both the past and the future, it is 25 years ago today that my youngest son was born. A quarter of a century has passed and our hope is that his future be filled with love, health, and happiness, on his birthday and in the New Year. For him, for us, and for all of you.
Sautéed Baby Eggplants ad Plum Tomatoes
12 baby eggplants, firm and unblemished, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces
1 large onion, diced
12 plum or Roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp Piment d’Espellete ( or substitute red chili powder)
1/3 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the diced onion. Saute onion till golden and then add minced garlic. Saute for a minute and add sliced eggplant. Add salt, pepper, and Piment d’Espellete. Lower heat to a simmer, and cover pan, allowing eggplant to cook through. This takes about 30 minutes. Then uncover and add diced tomatoes. Cook eggplant for another 20 minutes, again over a low flame. Serve hot or at room temperature with chopped fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.